OPINION OF THE COURT
Appellants, Ralph Singley and Philip Mitman, challenge the judgment of ouster removing them from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton. Finding no merit in their claims, we affirm.
On December 31, 1975, the outgoing Mayor of Easton appointed appellees, Frank Sortino and Anthony Renaldi, to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton to serve fixed, staggered terms of office.
Two issues arise out of this controversy. First, appellants challenge the validity of the outgoing mayor's appointments, on the theory that, by delaying the appointment of new members to the Authority, he forfeited his statutory power to appoint. Second, appellants argue that the new mayor could properly remove and replace appellees, either at will or for the "just cause" they believe is presented in this case.
The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton is an agent of the Commonwealth subject to the Urban Redevelopment Law. Urban Redevelopment Law, Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, § 9, 35 P.S. § 1709 (1977); Herriman v. Carducci, 475 Pa. 359, 380 A.2d 761 (1977); cf. Deer Creek Drainage Basin Authority v. County Board of Elections, 475 Pa. 491, 381 A.2d 103 (1977) (joint municipal authorities agents of the Commonwealth). Under the Law, "five citizens" are to comprise the redevelopment authority. Urban Redevelopment Law, § 5, 35 P.S. § 1705. Appointments to the authority are to be made "by the Mayor alone." Herriman v. Carducci, 475 Pa. at 361, 380 A.2d at 763 (interpreting § 5 of the Law, 35 P.S. § 1705). Section 6 of the Law, 35 P.S. § 1706, provides:
Neither appellee was appointed to succeed a member leaving the Redevelopment Authority during a term of office. Appellees succeeded members whose terms of office had expired. Under the Law, a member whose term of office has expired is permitted to remain on the Authority
Nothing in the Urban Redevelopment Law suggests that a mayor who fails to appoint successors forfeits his appointing power. Rather, the Legislature has chosen to keep the appointing power within the hands of a single public official. As Judge Williams correctly concluded:
We therefore agree with the court of common pleas that the outgoing mayor's appointment of appellees was lawful under the Urban Redevelopment Law.
Likewise the court of common pleas properly concluded that the new Mayor of Easton could not remove appellees from office. Appellants rely upon the Constitution of Pennsylvania in first arguing that the new mayor could remove appellees at will. Article VI, Section 7 of the Constitution provides in part:
Appellants ignore, however, Article VI, Section 1, which provides:
It is "established in this State beyond respectable controversy that, where the legislature creates a public office, it may impose such terms and limitations with reference to the tenure or removal of an incumbent as it sees fit." Watson
The trial court properly recognized that this Court has already examined the Urban Redevelopment Law in conjunction with the above constitutional provisions to determine whether appointed members of a redevelopment authority are removable at the will of the appointing power. In Commonwealth ex rel. Hanson v. Reitz, 403 Pa. 434, 170 A.2d 111 (1961), we held that a "Mayor of a third class city lacks power to remove from office at his pleasure appointed members of an Authority created under [the Urban Redevelopment Law]." 403 Pa. at 435-36, 170 A.2d at 111. Reitz built upon Watson, supra, where we determined from the Legislature's design of the Turnpike Commission, whose members held staggered, fixed terms of office, an intent to take away from the Governor the power to remove Commission members at will. "[The Governor] could render all of the offices vacant at one time which, obviously, the [Turnpike] Act was specifically designed to [avoid]." Watson v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 386 Pa. at 128, 125 A.2d at 357. Reitz also relied upon Bowers v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 402 Pa. 542, 167 A.2d 480 (1961), where we again followed Watson in concluding that members of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, holding fixed terms with staggered expiration dates, could not be removed at the Governor's will.
Nothing in the Urban Redevelopment Law has changed since our decision in Reitz. Under Section 6 of the Law, "members . . . first appointed shall serve for terms of one, two, three, four and five years . . . from the date of their appointment . . . . Thereafter, the term of office shall be five years." A redevelopment authority therefore consists of members whose fixed terms of office
Moreover, nothing in our decisions subsequent to Reitz, Bowers, and Watson suggests that the "fixed, staggered" rule is no longer valid. As the trial court pointed out, in Schluraff v. Ryzmek, 417 Pa. 144, 208 A.2d 239 (1965),
We adhere to the view expressed in Reitz that the Urban Redevelopment Law, creating fixed, staggered terms of office, demonstrates a legislative intent to deny the mayor the right to remove, at his pleasure, members of the Redevelopment Authority. Appellants' contention on this issue is therefore without merit.
Appellants' remaining justification for the new Mayor of Easton's removal of appellees was that "just cause" existed for appellees' removal. According to appellants, the Redevelopment Law, by specifying staggered terms of office, contemplates that members of the Authority will have varying degrees of experience in office and that appellees' inexperience provided cause. This contention, too, was properly rejected by the court of common pleas:
Our review of the record convinces us that there is no basis for disturbing the determination of the court of common pleas.
Judgment of ouster affirmed.